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The Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry joins forces with the Wales Race Forum to diversify the stem cell donor panel

The Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry is working with the Wales Race Forum to encourage volunteer stem cell donors from Black, Asian, Multiple Mixed Heritage and Ethnic Minority communities to join our fight against blood cancer and give patients across the globe a second chance at life.

The Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry holds a panel of volunteer donors who have agreed to donate their stem cells for patients in need of a stem cell transplant.

Stem cell transplants are used to treat blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and severe aplastic anaemia, in addition to providing a treatment option for some immune system and metabolic disorders. A stem cell transplant can be a patient’s last resort at overcoming their illness.

In the United Kingdom around 2,000 stem cell transplants take place annually, and globally this figure is over 50,000. Only 25% of patients in need of a transplant will find a suitably matched donor within their own family. When a patient cannot find a matched donor within their family a global search for an unrelated matched donor can be performed.

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However, three in every ten patients do not find the match they need on global unrelated donor panels and the risk of not finding a donor increases for patients of ethnic heritage due to the increased genetic diversity and the lack of representation on global donor registers. Unfortunately, this does highlight that there exists an unmet need for Black, Asian, Multiple Mixed Heritage and Ethnic Minority patients across Wales, the UK and globally.

The Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry is keen to address this unmet need by forming strong relationships with Black, Asian, Multiple Mixed Heritage and Ethnic Minority communities in Wales. We are committed to developing a more diverse stem cell volunteer donor panel which meets the needs and requirements of patients from all ethnic backgrounds and provide equal access to treatment options to all those requiring a stem cell transplant.

One of our donors, James Southerby, shared a few words on why becoming a stem cell donor was so important to him.

“It is an experience that has been so unique to me. If this were myself or my family who were poorly, I’d be desperately hoping that there was somebody to help. I am simply so glad to have been that somebody for another family.

“I tell everybody about my donation, it was such a good feeling knowing that I was needed for this patient. Truly, I cannot imagine how it would feel, from my recipient’s perspective, to receive a phone call from your doctor letting you know that a match had been found.

“To anybody thinking of joining the registry – I would say just go for it. It is an unbelievable feeling. Donating your cells gives you the chance to be a hero. It is not stressful or high physical effort. You are looked after the entire way through”.

James Southerby

Blood cancer survivor Simona Dubas explains how grateful she was that she was able to find a matched donor who saved her life.

“When I found out that there was a donor matched to me I was unbelievably grateful, and I think overwhelmed, by the selfless gesture. This is something that you cannot describe in words. I would say to anybody that is interested in becoming a bone marrow donor, that this is a truly noble thing to do. For many people with blood cancer and other blood disorders, a transplant is their only chance to recover from their illness, a last resort. Just think how proud you’d be if you saved someone’s life”.

If you are interested in joining the Welsh stem cell donor panel you can sign up online, using the links below, to either attend a blood donation session or to request a swab kit that will be sent in the post.

Join the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry today. You could be the perfect stranger for a patient in need of a transplant and give them a second chance at life.

If you have any questions or would like further information on joining the panel, or the work we do at the registry please contact us at the Welsh Bone Marrow donor Registry and we will be more than happy to help (email: phone: 01443 622177 office hours 9am -5pm).